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Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood review

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AT A GLANCE
  • Ideas coming out the wazoo
  • Huge improvement in combat
  • Spectacle-packed
  • A few graphical quirks
  • No bible powers
  • Should've had co-op

After apocalyptic future worlds, there can be few settings less original than the Old West. Chuck in a desert, some dueling and a few authentic guns and you have yourselves a game, right? Well Techland don’t subscribe to that – Bound in Blood, like its predecessor, has ideas coming out the wazoo. Not all are integrated as well as we’d wish, but you’d have to hunt pretty damned hard to find a single dull or predictable moment here.

Wisely ditching the duff stealth (well, mostly) and paying extra care and attention to the combat, this is a huge improvement over the original. Aside from a few graphical quirks – usually related to the new cover system – it’s a rock-solid, spectacle-packed shooter; ramshackle in places but packing such heart only the staunchest FPS pilgrim would complain. All of the Old West is here, from tense duels to busy shootouts to lonely cross-country horse riding.

It’s also a surprisingly well-told tale; a prequel focusing on outlaw brothers William, Thomas and Ray McCall – who later becomes the Bible-bashing hellfire preacher of the original Call – as they track down the legendary Juarez treasure and kill every American, Mexican and Injun who gets in their way. You can choose between Thomas or Ray at the start of most stages, with the former getting a lasso for occasional acrobatics and Ray having the skill to duel-wield. We missed being able to carry a bible and fire bolts of damnation at enemies – an undisputed highlight of the first game – but the vast cache of iconic weaponry just about makes up for it. Apart from the weedy throwing knives and limp bow and arrows, the game’s guns are tremendous fun to use.

The new automatic cover system lets you hug nearly any surface but the limited perspective makes it difficult to aim, and it’s hardly implemented smoothly – a lot of the time you end up putting your arms through walls, boxes and the like. On Medium difficulty the game doesn’t put up much of a fight, so we rarely used it and often forgot it was there. Of more note, the slo-mo Concentration mode has been enhanced: it now comes in three varieties, each designed to make you feel like a true gunslinger and enhancing the already satisfying combat no end.

Stages are consistently surprising, adding welcomely unexpected elements to the familiar formula – random bits which don’t quite gel enough to change the central mechanics but do succeed in staving off over familiarity. For instance, early on you get to play around with buckets of water in order to extinguish a burning barn. Aside from a similarly brief moment towards the end of the game this sideshow exists for little reason save breaking up the shooting. The same could be said of the lasso acrobatics, and of the two free roaming sections in the middle part of the game.

Any other title would have an open-world hub containing each mission, but they’re strangely separate entities here. We’re glad all the Wild West staples are included but the structure’s a little off, like a beefburger with the cheese on the outside. For a game so firmly focused on its two lead characters the omission of co-op is also glaring. It seems set up to include it but, for whatever reason, Techland decided not to go down that path. Although the game’s fun on your own, it’s definitely a glaring, missed opportunity.

If you’re sick and tired of the lifeless brown dirge most shooters dish out the open vistas, rolling skies and unspoilt wilderness of Bound in Blood’s setting will be a breath of relatively fresh air. It’s also, simply, a great first-person shooter – and a bigger, better Western than the first.

Jun 30, 2009

More Info

Release date: Jun 30 2009 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC (US)
Jul 03 2009 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Ubisoft
Developed by: Techland
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence
PEGI Rating:
18+

We Recommend

8 comments

  • kubes - June 30, 2009 7:42 p.m.

    ill probably rent it
  • mman36 - June 30, 2009 11:38 p.m.

    The game looks cool, but the review seemed counter-productive. It never really seemed to get down to the most important question: is the game fun? ReCaptcha: deadened nebbish
  • Dexsus - July 3, 2009 7:32 p.m.

    For anyone considering getting this, do. I only have 2 problems with it so far, 1 being I cant melee someone if they get all up in my western grill and 2 the fact that you cant start fires on such a scale as the first one. Yes, I am a video game pyro. :P
  • GrandMoffBubbles - July 4, 2009 8:54 a.m.

    This is a very fun game. If you are not sure, rent it. The story is good and the banter between the brothers is worth the 60 bucks (or rental) in my opinion. I wasn't into Westerns before but I'm hooked now!
  • prfctmilkshak - July 20, 2009 6:45 p.m.

    thanx. nice review
  • Lastn1ght - July 2, 2009 7:49 p.m.

    If you ask me, you have two choices...spend 60 bucks on this solid and enjoyable summer FPS, or be a little more patient and save your 60 bucks for the best wild west shooter of the generation: Red Dead Redemption. That's what I'm waiting for.
  • xxxFurryFanxxx - July 3, 2009 4:07 a.m.

    I agree with Lastn1ght, even though the "1" in his name is silly. Red Dead Redemption looks as if GTA found a time machine.
  • I_aM_GoD - August 2, 2009 8:36 p.m.

    this game is so fun the singleplayer is great fun with duals but the online to it is ALMOST as high a standard as cod,though it wood be nice to have a killcam!

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